As if COVID-19 wasn’t good enough at spreading with the current help it’s getting from QAnon believers, anti-vaxxers, and students/young people with under-developed brains, Birmingham City Council has found a new way of helping it along.
The method involves passing out used COVID-19 test kits to people needing them.
People who do have developed brains will already see the problem, but for the others who insist on denial, what happens is that a bunch of people who suspect they have COVID-19 enough to need a test get a testing kit, use it, send it off, and then the kit is given to someone else to use. Bear in mind that a testing kit essentially consists of a swab that you wipe around your throat and nose.
Naturally, the method is most effective when you do it in an area which already has higher infection rates. And the news article indicates some people given these used tests have already used them – it’s kind of like a surrogate French Kiss with someone you don’t know who is already quite likely to be infected because they took a test. Birmingham City Council maxed out on the effectiveness of this new method of contagion by giving the used tests to at least some students.
It has always been patently obvious that wearing a face mask will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 around. Even an oily floor rag wrapped around your face would reduce that risk. That’s because if you have the virus, and cough, sneeze, or even spit while you’re talking, the mask will catch the larger droplets that are laden with it.
The morons of this world only see things in black and white, though. If a mask doesn’t totally eliminate the spread of the virus, then as far as they’re concerned it doesn’t work, and there’s no point wearing one.
And that’s where the problems start. Because unless the majority are wearing them as requested, there really is no point to them. Those who won’t wear them spread it around in buckets, and since masks are intended to protect others from the wearer – not the other way round – those who are wearing them are not protected.
It’s a tricky concept for the typical halfwit. The whole premise of protecting others is anathema to them.
But a university in Canada has shown that wearing masks can result in almost half as many new cases of COVID-19 each week. They have put a number to what has always been obvious to anyone with an IQ greater than that of cheese.
Of course, those who think their immune system fed with Vitamin D and a holistic diet will keep them safe, or those who think it is all a hoax and an issue of government control, or any combination of QAnon conspiracy nonsense, will still argue against it. They think they’re clever, but they’re not. They’re just… morons.
We need hefty fines for non-compliance.
Nottingham’s number of COVID-19 cases has gone through the roof. We’re now
sixth fifth fourth worst in the country and rising for cases per 100,000 (we went through those struck-out positions as I was drafting this). We have been told to go into local lockdown mode in anticipation of a formal announcement, and I am already cancelling lessons.
I had a pupil text me just as I was getting ready to start calling people, and he informed me he’d been sent home from school and had to quarantine for 14 days, because a teacher had tested positive. I last saw him a week ago. That’s on the back of another pupil who didn’t have a lesson this week (or last) because someone at his workplace had tested positive, and I’d seen him the week before that. And those were on the back of another pupil who recently started again after a two-week quarantine, because his sister worked at a school which had been hit with several cases among teaching staff. I’d seen him the week before, too. And from what he told me when I called earlier to cancel his lessons (and if I deciphered his teenaged mumbling correctly), his school now has cases.
To make matters worse, I have heard on the grapevine that an examiner at a Nottingham test centre took someone out on test, and that person then tested positive the following day. Although the examiner is quarantining, they cannot get a test unless they become symptomatic, which is f***ing stupid – if they do develop symptoms, what about everyone who has been in contact with them, and all their subsequent contacts, in the meantime? It also raises the big fat question of how and why the idiot learner who tested positive in the first place actually managed to arrange a COVID-19 test. They must have been suspicious or at high risk of being infected in order to do so, so what the f**k were they thinking taking a driving test?
Right now, it seems like I’m in The Matrix, bending this way and that to dodge more and more bullets coming my way.
COVID-19 testing is a shambles. By now, anyone who wants one should be able to get one. They should be able to test themselves at home. There should be no backlog of any kind. But there are problems everywhere within that list. Tests are taking days or even longer to be carried out. The backlog is such that the system is overloaded. Some results are not being returned. Samples are being lost even before being tested. Testing kits are going missing or not being used – even though the government is classing them as ‘tests done’ to try and make itself look better than the carve up it really is. And that is why the examiner – someone who is right at the top of the list of people who really ought to be tested for at least a dozen reasons on an almost daily basis – can’t get one unless they endure the risk of ending up in an ICU first.
The two main reasons we now have this situation in Nottingham is 1) pubs and restaurants, and 2) students. People have been behaving as if nothing is wrong since the main lockdown was eased, and since the students came back, they’ve been behaving as they do every year with knobs on. The kind of people who are going to pubs – students are high among those – lose any sense they might have had to start with once they take a sip of beer. And since they didn’t have much sense, the fall into stupidity is so much greater.
Nottingham University is somehow managing to do its own testing, and it was revealed recently that 425 students and 8 teaching staff have tested positive. Most of them will have been freshing it up all week. Nottingham Trent University is refusing to say how many of its students are infected, but it is almost certainly of the same magnitude. There have been numerous reports locally of students not adhering to distancing guidelines or wearing masks, especially on the trams. Several house parties have been broken up, the most significant one involving that guy who was slapped with a £10,000 fine a few weeks ago.
All of that makes this story is almost unbelievable. Nottingham University – like all other universities – was absolutely desperate to get students back, along with the £9,000 each of them brings in (or £15,000, I believe, if they come from the Pacific Rim). And now – in one of the very halls which is the location of a COVID-19 outbreak – it wants to move students out and into alternative accommodation (other halls, or a 4-star hotel) because the halls they’re in are a fire risk!
You simply could not make this up. The level of incompetence being demonstrated is off the scale.
Then, as I was finishing up this article, I was reminded once more of how being clinically stupid doesn’t stop you from becoming a driving instructor. Someone on a forum has claimed that their ‘God given immune system is better than masks’. They have also added later that COVID-19 has been ‘downgraded from a HCID to… no more than the flu/common cold’.
This is a clear demonstration that being a complete f***ing imbecile is no barrier to being an ADI.
Faith in your immune system as a barrier to COVID-19 is part of the anti-vaxxer canon. It is usually supplemented by a belief that Vitamin D and diet will provide the necessary Aegis which protects the bearer from absolutely anything. Anyone who cites any one of these ‘solutions’ is, by definition, completely clueless. The more so when they start talking about ‘government control’.
HCID stands for High Consequence Infectious Disease. It is a technical classification, and any assessment of a candidate involves a box-ticking exercise. At the start of the pandemic, not enough was known about COVID-19, in particular the level of mortality and how to test for it. As it turned out, the mortality was not as large as initially feared, and a greater understanding was built up. Consequently, it was no longer given the HCID classification. However, the government – all governments – have never said that it isn’t dangerous, and only one government, led by someone even more stupid that the person who reckons their immune system can repel it, has tried to claim it is ‘just the flu/common cold’.
COVID-19 is still classified as a serious public health emergency. It can – as evidenced elsewhere in this article – spread quickly. And it can only have escaped the attention of the most clinically stupid among us that around 50,000 people in the UK have died from it. And it is not – and never has been – the same as ‘flu or the common cold’. It isn’t flu or the common cold (even those two are completely different from each other). That’s why it has a different name.
Masks do not protect the wearer. That has never been their purpose. They protect others from the wearer, by reducing the number of droplets ejected from the nose and mouth. Masks do not eliminate contamination. They just reduce it. And refusing to wear one because you think you know better is criminally irresponsible.
It quotes a mother – Sara from Kent (and it’s no surprise she ‘didn’t want to give her second name’) – who saw:
…no evidence of security checks…
No one patrols the corridors to see if there are parties going on, so students are breaking the rules with impunity…
So how in f**k’s name does she reach the conclusion that students ‘aren’t to blame’?
If the immature morons are ‘partying with impunity’, which they’ve been told not to, then they ARE to blame. Absolutely and categorically.
There’s no point singling out individuals who have toed the line. Even in normal years, some students don’t get involved in parties and stupid stunts. They’re there to get a degree and that’s all. But every year, a significant number of them are geared up to behave like assholes. They’ve only gone to university to behave like assholes. That’s how university works. Jesus. If you’ve enrolled on a Mickey Mouse course outside of the core sciences or arts, what other reason would you have to be there? And it’s even worse this year, with those guessed grades that got them in. It’s a case of ‘party hard because I’m going to flunk it, and I need something to boast about in three years’ time for my CV’.
In this case, it’s Newcastle. And I know for an absolute fact that choosing Newcastle for most students is based on the rumours of the nightlife up that way. It comes up every time I end up teaching someone who wants to go there – it’s the main reason they want to.
There’s a news article in The Telegraph about pubs asking for a 20 minute ‘drinking up time’ following the newly introduced 10pm curfew. A quote in it from a supposed ‘industry expert’ made me shake my head in disbelief.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of industry group UK Hospitality, told The Telegraph: “A staggered closing time would be beneficial in reducing transmissions. A hard 10pm curfew was always going to lead to pinch point of customers leaving pubs en masse.”
Erm, excuse me Ms Nicholls, but what precisely do you think customers who are stupid enough to go out drinking in the first place, and who get kicked out of a pub at 9pm are going to do? You know, when other pubs are still open until 9.30pm or 10pm? Or what will they do at twenty past ten, after a ‘drinking up’ period?
Riiiight. In your world, they’re going to catch the bus home so there’s fewer people trying to use public transport at each of the other staggered closing times. It all makes sense, now.
Another ‘industry expert’ is at it again in a story a day later in the Evening Standard. This time, it’s about the government being under pressure to ‘review’ the curfew.
Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association… [said] “The curfew has been another devastating blow to the beer and pub sector. We have invested millions in creating safe socialising environments and had been slowly winning back the confidence of our customers and rebuilding our trade.”
This is on the day the global death toll went above 1 million. I can’t be the only person out here who thinks ‘f**k the hospitality sector’ if they use logic like this. Those twats dancing in the streets and storming off-licences at five past ten were behaving exactly like that inside pubs at five minutes to. How the hell is that part of a ‘safe socialising environment’?
The fact that both of these clowns are from the same gender can pass for now.
Of course, in the real world – a world of people who are stupid enough to go out drinking right now – they don’t give a f**k about ‘reducing transmissions’. If the pub they’re in closes while others are still open, they will head for those. And if they’re kicked out of anywhere before they’re properly tanked up, they’ll still end up creating far worse ‘pinch points’ in local shops, and getting into situations that usually arise when drunken British prats interact with other drunken British prats.
Absolutely none of those shown in the photos and videos are socially distancing or even wearing masks.
As the previous two blog articles with this title have shown, ignorance and stupidity is the problem. And if it is caused by a ‘minority’, as Johnson and his troupe keeps claiming, it’s a f**king huge minority. Frankly, I think it is a considerable majority involved.
My feelings on this government, the Tories in general, and Brexit are well known. But I don’t go so far as to blame them for everything. Only the things they do wrong.
The new Test & Trace app is now available. I downloaded it with no trouble, and it runs with no problems that I can see on my HTC U11 (come on, HTC, I want a new flagship) from 2017. All you have to do is enter the first part of your postcode and allow a couple of permissions and it is set up. However, the way the app works means that it has to be installed on relatively new phones which have the necessary Bluetooth features on them. Note that I said the necessary Bluetooth features – not Bluetooth per se. The iPhone 6, for example, was released in 2015, and Apple stopped supporting it and earlier models this year. So in other words it is obsolete, and no one in their right mind should automatically expect any new app to run on that phone.
The Test & Trace app doesn’t.
Matt Hancock has gone on record as saying an ‘upgrade’ maybe needed to access the app. Rightly or wrongly he’s going to get slated for this. It’s his ‘let them eat cake’ moment. But how is it his problem? It’s like complaining that you can’t play a C60 cassette in a CD player, or a VHS cassette in a DVD machine (though it’s worth pointing out people did complain when those two things were current issues).
I’m not saying the app is perfect, or that it works properly – I don’t know, and time will tell – but the vultures are out in force over it simply because they can’t download it on to two tin cans joined by a piece of string. It only works on iOS 13.5 and later – and that counts for 70% of the iPhone-owning public. It will only run on Android Marshmallow or later – again, from 2015 – and that covers over 80% of Android users. It doesn’t run for the tiny minority using Windows, Blackberry, or anything else. It doesn’t run on phones which aren’t ‘smart’ (think ‘original Nokia’). And you can’t use it if you don’t have a phone at all – and believe me, there will undoubtedly be some people who are in that bracket who are complaining.
The BBC has an article titled ‘Covid: Is it time we learnt to live with the virus?’ It also has a comments section open in that story.
At the same time, there is another article resulting from today’s government announcements which says that if we don’t do something, we could be looking at 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October, and 200 or more deaths per day once that stage of the increase kicks in.
Comments left in the first article include the following:
[boycie] Just let everyone catch it. The whole country cannot be held back once again for the sake of the few.
[Nick B] …it’s very sad that people have died from this. But locking down and unlocking down continually is no answer.
[Andrew C] …lock yourself down if you want to but don’t expect everyone else to do the same.
[Point_of_view] Do you really think it is people partying and protesting outside that is causing the bulk of transmissions? The main mechanism of transmission has been in people’s homes, inside.
[Ben] Is it time we learnt to live with it? Yes. Further lockdowns are going to do so much more damage than good.
[Richard] Yes, lockdown doesn’t work.
This is a very small sample, but it illustrates the crass stupidity and selfishness of what is quite possibly the majority of the British public – the same public that has put us where we are with the second wave right now.
The first commenter, ‘boycie’, fails to recognise that it is already proven that you can catch COVID-19 again. It has also been shown that resistance (‘immunity’) in those who have had it begins to wane after just 2-3 months. In other words, there is no such thing as ‘immunity’ at all – it is so short-lived that it is of no practical benefit. He also fails to recognise that anyone who got ill the first time may well have suffered damage that means they’re now one of those with an ‘underlying condition’. For them, a second infection will probably not be as mild as the first. This character, ‘boycie’, therefore appears to be completely happy to send his parents or grandparents to their graves just so he can carry on like nothing is wrong – and all because of his stupidity and ignorance.
As I have said many times, if my parents caught COVID-19, it would almost definitely kill them. If it didn’t on its first try, it would on its second. In a civilised world, you do not play that card on purpose. You do not even consider it – even for the short time this government did at the start of the pandemic, with its ‘herd immunity’ idea. Because we now know that ‘herd immunity’ from natural infection with COVID-19 does not exist, even if the ignorant ‘boycie’ types of this world are still stuck in the past and believe that it does.
‘Nick B’ and ‘Richard’ demonstrate ignorance in a different way. The chart at the top of this article shows the infection rates for the duration of the pandemic up until nearly the end of September in the UK. It seems fairly obvious to me that if you don’t do anything to try and limit how something spreads, there is no way that a thing the size of a COVID-19 virus has any ability to choose a cyclical or wave-like approach, such as we are seeing. It just spreads wherever it can. Therefore, almost the whole reason the numbers fell after the first peak was because action was taken to try and limit it. And almost the whole reason it is rising again now is because that action was reversed last month, and people who are theoretically far smarter than a COVID-19 virus started booking holidays to Spain and Greece (and other places where it was prevalent), and caused whole flights to have to be quarantined as they shipped it back to the UK. Almost the whole reason it never fell to zero was precisely because of people like ‘Nick B’, ‘Richard’, and the prats living it up in Zante or Ibiza, who most likely flouted or ignored the rules that were brought in even in the early days.
‘Andrew C’ probably couldn’t even spell ‘epidemiology’, let alone have the first clue what it involved. If any individual is going to dodge receiving a COVID-19 bullet, they have a much better chance if there are fewer bullets flying around to start with. ‘Andrew C’s’ solution is like saying everyone can run around going ‘yee-haaa’ and shooting at whatever they want, and anyone who doesn’t like it is at fault, and should stay at home and try to keep out the way. That’s fine, as long as there are no stray bullets – like grocery delivery drivers and postal workers – going from house to house.
‘Point_of_view’, like all the others, doesn’t like being locked down or told what to do, so he tries to justify that with cherry-picked details. How the hell does he think the virus gets into a home setting in the first place? It doesn’t just magically appear out of thin air – it has to be brought in. People like these commenters, who think they know more than the scientific experts, are the cause. They’re outside, pissing around like there’s nothing wrong, nipping off to the Balearics, then coming back and not isolating. They pick it up, then they take it home. The whole household becomes infected. But then, if any of that household has the same ridiculous beliefs as the commenters here, they will also go out, and the same cycle repeats in multiple households. It’s how exponential spread of the virus occurs, and is exactly like what that prat, Layton Migas, did when he came back from Ibiza, didn’t isolate (when he should have), and caused Bolton to be locked down.
‘Ben’ is one of those whose life revolves around money – his money – and nothing else, and who resents any restrictions. He is prepared to put that money above the lives of the 50,000 who have already died, and the additional deaths that are inevitable as a result of his ‘I don’t wanna’ approach.
That’s what it comes down to with all these people. They just ‘don’t wanna’, so they come out with these pathetic and uninformed excuses.
The country is in a f***ing mess for all sorts of reasons. Right now, COVID-19 is the biggest reason. And – right now – there is no ideal solution. The government is trying to balance letting people die, with letting businesses (and individuals’ finances) collapse. It is physically impossible to support both sides of that equation, and I don’t envy anyone who has to try. Right now, there is no solution, and I wish idiots like ‘boycie’, ‘ Nick B’, ‘Andrew C’, ‘Point_of_view’, ‘Ben’, and ‘Richard’ (plus the millions of others who think they know best – even though they can’t spell or use good grammar) would stop trying.
For me, if it was a choice between my business or my parents’ lives, my parents would come out tops every time. I just have to accept that there are people who are so materialistic (or whatever their motivation) that they see it differently.
We need a vaccine.
This is an old story from 2011, updated last in 2017, and again in 2020 following another surge of interest with people asking about bald tyres and insurance – particularly when they’ve been involved in accidents.
Back in 2011 in the run-up to Winter there was story about Cumbria police and the “20p test” (original media link here). I pointed out that this “20p test” does not distinguish between legal and illegal tread depth, but is an arbitrary specification which appeared to have been seized upon by Cumbrian police ahead of the predicted relocation of the Antarctic to the UK that year.
Then, Lady Motor News (which doesn’t exist anymore) jumped on it and showed even though a little knowledge can be dangerous, no knowledge at all is even worse. The main thrust of the story was fine: if you have an accident where bald tyres are involved, you may find you are not covered by your insurance.
But they then went on to say:
To ensure you’re not caught with illegal tyres, car insurance experts recommend the 20p trick. Place a 20p coin in the main tyre tread, if the rim of the coin is covered by the tread, then your tyres are legal for use on UK roads.
Technically, this is correct, but only partially – and only by accident. That’s because the correct specification for tread depth on car tyres is that they should have at least 1.6mm of depth across the central three-quarters of the tyre’s width (the bit that goes on the road), and this should be true for the entire circumference (i.e. all the way round). And there should be no cuts or bulges in the sidewall on both sides of the tyre. So they could fail the ‘20p test’ and still be completely legal (or pass it, and be completely illegal because of sidewall damage). That’s because the rim on a 20p coin is about 2.5mm wide, so the ‘test’ only shows if it is above or below this – but not by how much. Consequently, it has nothing to do with ‘being legal’.
It might sound pedantic, but when people don’t understand something and start writing about it, it gets taken as gospel by those who know even less, but ought to know a lot more. Such as new drivers,
If you really can’t afford to by a proper tyre tread depth gauge, the legal limit of 1.6mm can be measured roughly using either an old-style 10p coin with the row of dots, or a newer coin and the top of the writing around it. The dots (or writing) are about 1.6mm away from the edge of the coin. If you are anywhere near 1.6mm using this method you need new tyres.
A proper gauge costs under £7, and any decent driver should have one. The digital ones are easily the best.
Is my insurance valid if I have an accident as a result of bald tyres?
I get a lot of hits on this search term. The short answer is NO. You are almost certainly not covered if you are driving a car that is not roadworthy, and bald tyres mean exactly that: the car is not roadworthy (it’s actually illegal).
Will I get away with bald tyres if I have an accident?
If it’s a minor prang, and no one checks your tyres as part of the insurance process, then you might get away with it. If you do, count yourself very lucky and learn your lesson.
If it’s a bigger accident, and especially if the police are involved or there is damage to property or person, you’re likely to end up being prosecuted. The more serious the accident, the more likely they are to look for what caused it – and you not stopping in time or skidding because you had bald tyres is likely to be a major factor. If this happens, you’ll get points on your licence, and quite possibly a criminal record. Your insurance will be void, and any compensation awarded to the injured parties (plus expenses) will fall to you to pay. You could even end up in prison if you have a habit of playing silly games with the Law, and the court decides enough is enough.
If your car is in an accident and you have a bald tyre will the insurance sort it out?
Someone found the blog on that precise search term. It’s a bit of a silly question, since if you have bald tyres you don’t actually have valid insurance, so why should they help you ‘sort it’ if you’re involved in an accident as a result? Some might – but your future premiums will go sky high. It’s best not to try it – just check your tyres and replace them if they’re badly worn.
Think about it. Four new tyres – cost approximately £100. Insurance before accident for 23-year old – say £1,000 a year. Insurance after accident for 23-year old – £2,000 plus (quite a lot plus, in many cases), loss of any no-claims bonuses, and several years to get even close to what you were paying before.
Am I covered if the person who caused the accident had bald tyres?
Tricky one, and in all honesty I don’t know. Technically, if your own insurance is void if you have bald tyres, then your insurer could refuse to pay out to the 3rd party, and that would therefore apply if you were the 3rd party. Then there are the fraudulent claims for old damage, more damage than was actually caused, inflated repair costs, whiplash, and so on.
It’s a legal minefield. If you’re in this position yourself, seek professional advice.
Regular readers will know I make occasional reference to the Darwin Awards. These are actually a semi-official thing, and relate to people who are just stupid in the extreme.
My mentions are not official, but the people involved are at least as stupid – if not more so. The latest is Michael Richards, 41, who was on a flight to Tenerife. In this article, he boasts how he avoided having to use a mask on an EasyJet flight by making a tube of Pringles last for four hours.
When you read his pathetic bragging, it is clear he did it on purpose. And he comes from Huddersfield, which is in itself a forewarning of the the missing chromosome Richards is subject to.
Richards’ only defence for his stupidity – which he sees as brilliantly clever – which has prompted criticism, is to say:
they’re sitting at home in the UK in rainy weather and we’re sunning it up in Tenerife
I don’t think he understands the situation at all. All of us could be doing what he is doing. Nothing is physically stopping us, except for one small detail.
We’re not complete wankers.
CAMRA has found itself at the heart of the latest ‘let’s be deeply offended’ epidemic with it’s choice of limited-edition glass design for this year’s Great British Beer Festival (which is being held virtually).
As you can see in the images above, it has little virus images all over it.
On the surface of it, my first thoughts are ‘meh! Big deal’. I’m certainly not one of the ‘deeply offended’ types who have been spouting off on social media about it. On the other hand, it is a pretty bloody stupid and insensitive design when you consider that in the UK alone, that little virusy thing has killed over 40,000 people (or over 50,000, depending on which figures you go by) in under six months, with all the signs that it might do it all over again this winter unless we get a vaccine pronto.
I can see the point even more if I imagine myself in the place of people who have lost family members to it (regular readers will know I’ve been doing my damnedest not to become one of them). The problem is that it trivialises something which is very serious, and which has been difficult to control all along because of… trivialisation by so many people.
After my initial ‘meh’ thought, it then immediately struck me that this was the product of unskilled, immature, and amateurish advertising people and immature and amateurish clients approving the copy.
In my own experience, the problem started in the 90s – in my case, with the advent of ‘Teamworking’. Prior to then, skilled advertising agencies were employed to develop campaigns, and they would test them on the public before moving forward with them and presenting them to the client, being very careful to avoid controversial subjects. Obviously, that was quite expensive. But ‘Teamworking’ declared that everyone could to everything, and suddenly Gothic and film noir imagery developed by skilled advertising people was replaced with ‘let’s use a smiley face and some glitter sprinkles. And the clip art that comes free with Microsoft Word. And Comic Sans font’. Approval would be given by some guy you sat next to who thought that belching loudly was the peak of humour. We’ve gone downhill ever since.
It doesn’t matter that the organiser of the festival has had COVID-19 herself, or that she says she has permanent lung damage as a result. It isn’t just about her. This is exactly what happened with the ‘Teamworking’ thing, and it is another example of crassly ill-advised and ill-timed advertising. They might have had less of a rocky ride if it was next year’s event. But this year?
I repeat: I am not offended. I can just see it for what it is – crap advertising – and there’s a good chance I’d see it even clearer if I’d lost someone to COVID-19.