I’ve got a sneaking admiration for Donald Trump

Go big or go home…and The Donald’s going big in opening up America, standing down the coronavirus taskforce in the next few weeks. It’s probably fair to say there’s not an awful lot of love lost ‘twixt the Gray Lady and The Donald. New York is full of, well, t’other side, and it’s just not Donald’s tribe, though it has been his old stamping ground for ages.

Trump administration officials are telling members and staff of the coronavirus task force that the White House plans to wind down the operation in coming weeks

NYT

It’s not unknown for a POTUS to claim a premature victory. We’ve seen this movie before

How did that work out for ya, Dubya?

but there’s a big difference. I felt that Dubya was a bit out of his depth. He probably believed his own hype. It’s all that inbreeding in the presidential families of America. Trump is an outsider. Sure, his dad was steenking rich, we’re not talking the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks making it to POTUS version of the American Dream.

I’m of the view that Trump is one of a kind – a masterful dog-whistler. Not everybody is responsive to his particular schtick, and it brings an awful lot of people out in hives. But those to whom he does speak, he speaks directly, and they feel he speaks for them. And sure as hell nobody else has been speaking for them since the American Dream started to go down the toilet pretty much since Reagan took office.

The Mule’s childhood was one of alienation and torment. This motivated him to use his powers to get revenge on the Galaxy

He reminds me of the Mule in Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, someone who almost directly controls people’s minds by making what he says resonate with their lived experience. After years where nobody sounds like they are listening to you that is magnetic – because all humans want to belong and for their pain to be witnessed. The Ermine has recently fired up the TV and paid the goons of TV licensing. I heard Trump on the TV news, and unlike hearing it through my PC on the Web, I heard him on my hi-fi.

The Donald needs to be re-elected

And while he doesn’t speak to me and I know he’s a lying sack of shit, I could hear the magnetism in the way he used his voice and understand the appeal. But the Donald comes with problems. Presumably he had attachment issues as a child, anyway he has a deep seated need to think that he is favoured, and it is really, really important to him to win the election.

Over in London they think coronavirus probably has a low mortality rate and the economy is suffering. Citing various posts from the intellectual right-wing website Unherd, some make a cogent case that Covid-19 isn’t such a big deal for most people. To their credit, Unherd supported their assertion with interviews with experts of similar views  – Hendrik Streek, and Johan Giesecke, and these make a lot of sense. it’s only when you look at Unherd’s content more widely that the focus of their particular lens shows clearly.

Their lens may be more accurate in some areas. I find a lot of resonance in Unherd’s interpretation that a lot of the problems in recent decades stem from a general anomie where by measuring everything in money we may have stripped our world of meaning and knowing what we stand for. I am not clever enough, nor privy to the information that shows whether the truth about coronavirus is closer to the Johan Giesecke end of the spectrum or Neil Ferguson’s. I am less convinced by Giesecke’s, not because I have a way of evaluating it, but from the people that are pushing it, who seem driven by the economics. But the low mortality rate we are all overreacting because what does it matter if this is infectious as hell if it doesn’t kill that many people is popular in London, and it is internally consistent. These are clever people making the case. Human societies do not put life first above all else everywhere – cars, pollution and many other things are examples of drawing a balance where some deaths are part of the price of achieving a greater good.

Mandy Rice-Davies might proffer that Londoners would say that. Londoners are young so at lower risk, on average. It’s unlikely to be a lot of fun being holed up in London micro-flats in a mini-heatwave.  Some are currently not doing a job that brings in squillions. Feeling more squillions disappearing down the plughole due to the shuttered economy must be stressful.

It’s less bad for a retiree in the sticks, where in a bike ride of several miles I encountered four cars once I got out of the town. I saw this

the white handkerchief is a Little Egret

avoided a serious gang fight

Why this field hasn’t degenerated into a swan war of all against all beats me

and wondered how this knot was done

Knotted Willow

While there’s some rumbling going on among the more swivel-eyed Tory contingent about opening up the economy – step forward Iain Duncan-Smith channeling FDR in the Torygraph

After six weeks of lockdown, we mustn’t lose sight of how vital a functioning economy is to our health and wellbeing. Perhaps we should remember President Roosevelt’s wise words in a time of crisis: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Iain “I’m all right Jack” Duncan-Smith, who is of the blessed opinion that poor people have a previous monthly salary paid in arrears that they can draw on before they get Universal Credit, writing in the Torygraph 5 May 2020

the trouble is that they are all chickenhawks. What the world needs to straighten out the difference between these courses of action is someone sure of their convictions and with balls of steel and pure conviction. Enter our man of the moment, Donald Trump.

Here’s a guy who knows what he wants, and knows how he’s going to get it. There are two competing ends of the theory spectrum about coronavirus, and sadly we have insufficient data to make a clear call which is right.

One, the London/Unherd view is that it’s not a biggie, most of us have already had it, closing the economy kills people too y’know. The other is that this is so infectious it will let rip as soon as its given a chance, mortality is not low enough that it won’t kill many. The UK already seems to have the highest European death toll, which points me in the latter direction, but whatever.

What we need is strong leadership, somebody who goes with his gut to cleave the Gordian knot in the face of uncertainty. Now strong leadership tends to have rather undesirable consequences of people marching in shiny jackboots and smashing windows in the night, so what we need is strong leadership somewhere else. And in the US of A they’ve got it. They voted for it once, and they’re gonna vote for it again.

Donald’s really keen on getting re-elected. He’s already flung so much Federal Reserve money at the stock market that it no longer reflects reality, even Warren Buffett can’t see where he’s going, the screen is covered with so much money.

But that’s not enough. Donald needs boots on the ground. He’s not going to let a little thing like a global pandemic get in his his way of being re-elected. Not only is he going to ReOpen America, he’s going to damn well Make America Great Again. And for that he needs Americans back at work. lickety-split.  No, not that interpretation of the phrase, though I guess this is Trump…

Now obviously there’s a chance that people might die if the low mortality  view is less congruent with reality than the higher mortality view. But that’s not important to Donald. Strong leaders decide, others take the consequences. Trump 2020 is what matters, so the great engine of American exceptionalism needs to get fired up. As Warren Buffett said,

never bet against America.

Warren’s ADF indicator may be titsup because of the Fed’s wall of money, but Donald Trump knows exactly where he’s going, what he wants and how he’s going to get it. And he’s going to put the pedal to the metal. Real Men accept collateral damage.

Warren scratches head. Which way is up on this damn thing? Trump leans over, smashes glass, sets the needle. That way is up, buddy.

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys and the rest of the world can stick it, lily-livered quislings that they are. But they can hitch a ride on the Trump.

VUSA is your friend. Or pretty much any S&P500 fund or ETF. Never bet against America, because Donald will MAGA. I’m tempted. I am light America. I loathe everything Trump stands for. But perhaps our Londoners are right, and coronavirus isn’t all that. A punt may at least make me feel better when Donald wins again in November. Like Asimov’s Mule, he doesn’t need to make everybody like him – all he needs to do is keep the people who do like him doing his bidding.

40 thoughts on “I’ve got a sneaking admiration for Donald Trump”

  1. May I respectfully disagree? Trump will not be reelected. His base will kill itself off by November. Look at them standing shoulder to shoulder,maskless,as they protest state lockdowns. Once the massive Trump rallied start up again, it will be even worse.

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    1. There’s an ironic prisoner’s dilemma though – the outcome I guess we favour, of lower lethality, brings us four more years of Trump…

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      1. It’s quite palpable in most of the US press, they’d prefer many more to die so that Truimp doesn’t get elected. It’s quite sickening. Sure dwarfs Trump locker-room talk from 15 years ago.

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  2. We’re dealing with someone who has a very short attention span. Donald has already tempered his comments on the Coronavirus task force.

    If he can preside over a rapid economic recovery he’ll win the next election. His hand is already pretty strong; his people seem to love dog whistle politics so expect to hear lots more about Iran and Mexico. Who knows; we might see him in bed with Kim Jong-un singing give peace a chance.

    I keep topping up VWRL and hoping Warren Buffett is correct and there really is a tailwind of American exceptionalism that continues to blow.

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    1. > We’re dealing with someone who has a very short attention span.

      I confess to miscalling the depths of Trumps desire. Or maybe it will come out in other ways, sending more patriots out to wave guns at elected officials to cancel shutdowns is perhaps more effective in getting Americans back to work

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  3. Whenever I hear any politician speak, although Trump is a poster boy here, I’m reminded of the description from Terry Pratchett’s book “Equal Rites” about the Zoon tribe who are pathologically incapable of lying.

    This is a drawback for a trading race so the Zoons elect and train a Tribal Liar to do the negotiating for them. This is a position of considerable eminence but other races obviously get very annoyed about all this. They feel that the Zoon ought to have adopted more suitable titles, like “diplomat” or “public relations officer.” ( or maybe “politician” )

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  4. It will certainly be interesting to see what Boris announces on Sunday. My personal preference is for a loosening of the current lockdown, not because I don’t fear Coronavirus, but because I am concerned about the knock-on effects (financial and mental wellbeing) of turning off the country for such a pro-longed period of time.

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  5. The orange oaf is President because the Dem National Committee rigged the nomination campaign against Bernie Sanders and in favour of Hillary Clinton – a woman so vile that I would have held my nose and voted for Trump.

    God knows who the Dems will run this time. Surely not Joe Biden who will clearly have no marbles at all come November. They had one decent potential candidate I thought – Tulsi Gabbard – but she made no progress in the tussle. The rest looked worse and worse with each passing week.

    It’s all looking just hunky-dory, eh?

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    1. This was a deep field of very interesting and qualified candidates. My faves were Klobachar, Mayer Pete and Andrew Yang. Sadly over time the field was winnowed down to just Sanders and Biden, the two worst possible choices in my mind. Now its just Biden. A great opportunity lost for the Dems. However I think Biden has a fairly good chance of winning. Most of us in the States really, really hate Trump. So even a weak candidate like Biden has a good shot. Especially since we’ve had to endure over 3 years of the alternative.

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  6. To be fair, those sheep and swans in the photos look perfectly socially / physically distanced.

    Perhaps the 6-foot-and-you’re-good rule isn’t an happenstance of this particular current virus, but an evolutionary reality we’ve forgotten or squeezed ourselves out of? 😉

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    1. Sheep are okay, but swans scare the bejesus out of me. I never realised you get them out in the wild not with clipped wings on parks etc until seeing this sort of thing. A couple hundred yards away was about as close as I wanted to be 😉

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      1. “swans scare the bejesus out of me”: hmph, I take it that you are urban by origin?

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      2. > I take it that you are urban by origin?

        Londoner for my first three decades 😉 Though I came to the conclusion that swans have something of the night in them when dear exGF who was a keen birder decided to feed some swans at Thorpeness, whereupon she got hissed and pecked at they started to move on us en masse. I don’t know if it was the inherent unfairness of one swan getting the grain or just that they were looking fora rumble but though we got back to the car OK and I figured if you don’t need binoculars to look at a swan they are too close.

        There are the wild sort at a nearby nature reserve. I’ve seen these guys hiss and go for dog walkers. Now having it in for dogs I can understand, but these guys start to get antsy at about 50 yards.

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      3. Swans and geese are not a problem. We raised geese when I was a kid, and I soon realised that they don’t have teeth. The worst they can do is give you a nip, and if you give them a finger to chew on, and show no fear, they quickly look embarrassed at their lack of effectiveness and wander off. What scares me on a walk is the lightweight individual holding the lead of a huge dog with no muzzle. “Oh, he just wants to be friends”, they say but they could do bugger all about it if he wanted to rip me to pieces. Give me swans!

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    2. Many years ago I was struck by the almost perfectly equally spaced blackbirds scattered across Christchurch meadow in Oxford: a bit of reading suggested that this was down to a dynamic equilibrium between the territorial and the aggressive instincts, aggession serving the purpose of preventing the birds from getting close enough for aggression to turn to violence (contrary to many people’s understanding, aggression is a mechanism for preventing physical violence).

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  7. I am another that has been reading/lurking for many years without commenting so thanks for sharing your ever-interesting opinions!

    I have been looking at US tech as well, and let myself get left behind after using the CGT allowance in April and then let this years ISA allowance sit in cash in a failed fit of market-timing.

    I was looking at IITU but wondered what attracted you to CNDX? CNDX seems a bit more diversified and in USD but I usually just go for the cheapest index I can find.

    https://www.morningstar.co.uk/uk/compare/investment.aspx#?idType=msid&securityIds=0P0000SM0F%7C0P000171ZZ

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    1. I ‘ve been doing this in my Charles Stanley ISA, which is very limited in what I can choose for regular investment. I went with a GBP denominated S&P500 fund in the end. I should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

      As an ETF I like IITU, thanks. There are nasty hidden costs/gotchas in buying USD denominated equities in iWeb due to FX charges. It hasn’t got the purity of the NASDAQ 100 but what the heck – perfect/good and all that. After all, when one is powered by Trump you can’t claim perfection in any commonly understood sense of the word!

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      1. Sorry, I see now it was your May 4th post I should have been replying to. Even though I don’t trade I am adding ETF’s these days due to lower cost and less time out of the market when rebalancing. We control what we can and accept the rest….

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  8. Trump does seem to be the marmite candidate, given narcisists are divisive characters by definition, but whether he’s a sunburnt baboon or the tangerine dream is actually irrelevant. The valid point is that he’s a symptom of corporate capture of the system or apparatus of state power. This is why at contemporary elections, no matter how crucial, there appears to be no real choice, because the hands operating the puppet show entertaining us with electoral theatre belong to the same controller. Hard to be smug about him in the UK though, with BJ a knock-off, poundshop copy. The interesting thing with Trump’s record of profiting off bankrupting his companies by gaming US business legislation, is can he pull off the big one, bankrupt the US? Printing more money in the last few weeks than in the previous century is an excellent start, killing Chinese supply chains and the other myriad effects of the lockdown(s), its looking good.

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  9. Maybe it’s a perception issue and I’m simply not seeing the scale of any current American-led death & destruction, but during the Trump presidency the US seems to have at least partially reigned in its decades-long penchant for randomly bombing the shit out of large areas of the rest of the world.

    So he may seem like a lunatic, but when compared to his supposedly sane predecessors, Trump’s doing OK in my book.

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  10. Great article.
    Makes me think that the divide between human and economic self interest is huge.
    Personally the lockdown makes my life better – overall.
    Financially it’s been disastrous but I am not downbeat about that.

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  11. Can’t stop myself commenting on your reference to The Mule in your last two pieces. Only really to go on record with my admiration for Asimov’s SF writing – ever present in my teen years as a maths / physics stream kid – and equally my mystification as to its near disappearance from libraries and bookshops. We were fascinated by and endlessly debated FTL drives, time travel, alien life etc. Was the hard science SF of Asimov, Heinlein and many others just a passing phase during American boosting of the hard sciences in the wake of Sputnik, and the ripples made by the Apollo program? Contemporary SF seems to be quite a different animal.

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    1. Ah, the secular decline of the West from the high-water mark of its hegemony, though of course Sputnik 😉 Or maybe I am just getting old. But yes, how did it come to this?

      I heard the wonder as my grandfather described the feeling of hearing it years before. He was in a Germany picking itself up in the Wirtschaftswunder and heard the transmissions because he was a radio amateur. And yes, the world was exciting and getting better all the time, and in primary school I saw the Moon landings.

      And then it all started to go wrong and technology was our problem and climate change was a thing etc etc. Bah! OTOH things I never thought I would see possible are routine now, but we retreat more into fantasy that hard SF… Not that there’s anything wrong with fantasy, but science isn’t so much associated with Things Can Only Get Better nowadays.

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      1. ‘Ah, the secular decline of the West from the high-water mark of its hegemony’

        This is a deeply thoughtful article on the future of our economy from a casualty actuary, working in insurance forecasting: https://ourfiniteworld.com/2020/05/13/understanding-our-pandemic-economy-predicament/

        The whole thing is fascinating, but 3 broad points jump out in conclusion. Despite all the spin in the world, the global economy runs on surplus energy and growth is only possible with a continuous supply. We had a comparable pandemic within living memory, the global response was radically different and with the benefit of hindsight, we therefore already know what the first response results in.

        Finally, the economy and our lifestyles are in irreversible transition towards simplicity, (probably back to something our grandparents would recognise) mindless consumption and systems designed to waste for maximum profit being no longer a sustainable option.

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      2. I was (am?) a big peak oiler in the earlier days, but while I don’t disagree with the general direction of travel its failure to arrive on the schedule of The Oil Drum perhaps lend some credence to a sequential step-wise decline in living standards and increase in localisation, more the Archdruid Report than the Automatic Earth.

        Of course this may simply be wishful thinking – another 30 years will probably see me out. I am child-free, so both I have not been adding to the problem and I do not have one very personal source of angst from a LtG world-view. But declinism is a disease of ageing too, as we project the personal onto the general. Humanity is a resourceful bunch, and while I am certainly not clever enough to have the faintest idea of what the solution is if any, those areas where I did favour a LtG scenario have generally turned out to be a misallocation of capital so far. Because I was not sure, I hedged my bets. To date I have lost from:

        under-weighting the US
        discharging all debt
        spending money on personal resilience, then moving, so if I want that, I get to spend that money again…

        but I have gained more from –
        financial investment
        leaving work – those work-free years and not putting up with the shit cannot be taken back from me
        Arguably the above also means I dodged health impacts from those. Even on a smaller scale I gradually lost weight over my retired years, I could imagine one day reaching the weight I was at 21 which would be exactly the right BMI. More widely I have so far dodged the cardiovascular issues that hit many colleagues in their last decade before retirement at 60. I cannot ascribe that definitively to retiring early because I haven’t lived the other life, but it looks good enough to me.

        In no way am I saying LtG is/was wrong. The trouble is the time of the massive heave-ho in the graphs are very sensitive to some of the assumptions, and that sensitivity means you could lose decades of quality of life to fear. This is not Hari Seldon and his psychohistory, humanity is part of the observed system, and therefore a feedback variable.

        The world after the transition will be no fun, at best it is a young man’s game. What’s the point of the middle-aged or old trying to hedge that? You have lived half your life in plenty, and it would be hard to see any point in living in that shattered world. Whereas those born into it would know nothing else – they might have the personal resilience to be able to carry on, or even to build and invent new, better ways of being human that work within rather than against the natural world, and develop meaning and interrelatedness in ways other than militant transhumanism.

        Something that slightly supports the step-wise bumping down decline would be that looking back, the decline in Western living standards started in the mid 1970s. Sure, your phone isn’t screwed to the wall anymore, and up till recently young stags could fly to Latvia to piss on the war memorials – I was over 30 before I got on a plane for the first time, and that was work, not recreation.

        But the secular declines in average American wages and arguably here started with the first oil shock in the 1970s, so while I was still at school. People economically active then, such as my Dad, were cushioned against the ravages of inflation by owning property and having the debt rapidly eroded. In the next generation women joined the workforce, increasing apparent money, so another generation got a lift. But surveyed happiness seemed higher in the 1970s than since.

        My experience of the world of work followed that pattern – I entered the workforce in the early 1980s but it was only in the early years of the new millennium that FI/early retirement was even a thing for me, as the demands and expectations of work started to spread across time and start to become nasty. I look at what people are expected to do for employers now and think I am well glad to be out of that. Of course, this could be due to personal changes – I become less outwards focused as I get older etc.

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      3. To Ermine:
        > spending money on personal resilience, then moving, so if I want that, I get to spend that money again…

        I am not sure that I understand your point, so could you say a few more words on what you mean.
        For example (and after all your short-term liquidity issues were resolved):
        a) did you lose, or gain, financially when you moved;
        b) have you gained all the other (non-financial, I assume) benefits that prompted your move;
        c) which resilience measures could not move with you;
        d) what steps have you taken since your move to re-build these measures;
        etc
        Apologies if you have explained this before, but I do not recall it.
        Thanks

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      4. > did you lose, or gain, financially when you moved;

        Life is a balance of a lot of things, as I get older I wonder how whenever I try and pick out one thread of life I find some bugger has wired it everything else. So I can’t answer that is a few words. Or maybe I am just the antithesis of George Orwell 😉

        I moved up, from a semi-detached house with a small garden to a detached place with large garden. Given my view on the value of property as an investment obviously I have lost by the sunk cost of the differential capital. But I have gained in quality of life, so has Mrs Ermine, who is the gardener in the household, a piece of land in the gardener’s shadow is more productive by far per unit area than our farm was 2 miles away, though obviously the latter is on a much larger scale, and is still doing very well as a community farm. If you regard land as property then I am no more committed to property now than I was before, because we owned not rented the smallholding land. But owning that land was a bad financial move, the stock market moved further up from 2011 to when we moved than land prices. But I would have been more concentrated in asset classes which is bad in a different way – hindsight is always 20:20. After all, I did not really believe that we would recover from the GFC. I bought into it, but the farm was a different asset class, and Mrs Ermine’s world-view and gain was a non-financial asset there. Warren Buffett was right on that occasion. I did well enough from financial assets, I have no complaints. After eight years of not having an income and a global pandemic my ISAs combined are worth about twice as much as when I left work (though my SIPP is flat on its back, about half moved into the ISAs). It gives me something to fight back against the inflation to come, whether it will give me 30 years fight, well, who knows?

        Obviously we now have much less land in total because res property acreage costs are shocking relative to agricultural land. Tough call on winning or losing resilience, because my biggest concern about the farm relative to FI Warrior’s LtG concerns, such as the fall or power and the road network, is being able to defend an outstation 2 miles away. I never understood the attraction of guns, beans ‘n ammo. That’s a young person’s game. But FWIW I don’t see a sudden catastrophic Hollywood movie style fall where it all goes titsup in a week. Perhaps I lack imagination. Or balls – that sort of thing is not something I wish to fight.

        The Southwest is more thinly populated than South Suffolk, and a great source of solace against a SHTF scenario is that and the greater distance from the Great Wen is all to the good. I am not hard enough to live up North, which is arguably better placed, the fibre of the people is more self-sufficient and used to physical privation and probably has an even lower population density. Trying to grow ‘owt up North without agrochemicals looks like sticky wicket, because its colder and the season is shorter. I did consider it, but it just wasn’t us. We are too soft and I am too decadent.

        In practical terms, regarding c) and d) resilience, well, arguably spending money on this was a misallocation of resources. That house had an extension which was the living room/dining room, and it was stupid to shut down the central heating because mould got into that room, I threw a lot of stuff out when I moved, it even made the contacts in the switches in my 30-year old pre-amplifier ratty and I had to service and decoke the innards of that before selling it, it was worse than if I had been a smoker (it was a valve amplifier so very open grilles and of course highly thermally cycled). The current house is much better designed for that sort of thing and the fireplace is in the centre of the house. In all fairness the fireplace was also in the centre of the original old house, but the extension was the problem there.. People really should think about the way the whole house works before adding extensions, and avoiding suchlike and particularly no flat roofs was a requirement of the new place.

        So the wood burner was a total misallocation of capital – most of the cost of installing one is labour, so don’t damn well move five years after installing one, d’oh 😉 There are other serious questions i would ask before installing another one. I believe modern practice is to feed the intake via a small-bore pipe from the outside, when mine was fitted they put in a vent to the outside. Which I had to make a cover for because if you’re not using the stove it lets the cold air in, drafting through the room to get into the bottom of the stove. A system sealed against the inside air makes much more sense. Plus there’s the whole air quality issue. OTOH if the choice is losing six months of life or freezing for 20 years, well from a limits to growth/peak oil perspective the choice isn’t that tough. HETAS disagrees about air quality issues, but Mandy Rice-Davies applies, probably

        I may still do this here, and perhaps partially from a resilience perspective, after all I am in a more rural area, holding a winter’s supply of fuel in the curtilage of one’s own property has some comfort, as does not needing electricity to run the heating system, though I have the skills and the equipment to power the controller and central heating pump over short-term power outages. And I will never ever, tolerate any basic services that require the Internet to work, unless they are the Internet, because I am old and crabby like that. But I have no local resources of power and fuel.

        However, I am getting older, am I really going to be splitting and scavenging wood in 20, 30 years’ time?

        We are less resilient within the property* than we were in Suffolk. But I wouldn’t do anything differently, other than probably not buy the wood stove then, and if I had, not trying to force my power bill down so much. Most of the quality of life to be had from a wood stove is in ambience, though the resilience is a nice byproduct. I don’t really like it that much that we have an electric cooker rather than gas from a resilience POV, but OTOH we have a firepit in the garden and a camper van with a two ring stove, and a Kelly kettle, so we aren’t going to starve or want for coffee in a power outage.

        But on a big picture resilience the greater distance from the pestilent threat (in a SHTF) of the Great Wen, the lower population density and agricultural hinterland with smaller lots and still some semblance of mixed farming, and some residual local distribution has to count for something. And while the S has not HTF, while I am further from London I am closer and better connected to the rest of the country and the places I want to go. Je ne regrette rien, and if I want a wood burner I can go out and buy one and get it installed. Cash. so it’s not a big deal. But I will allocate it to the nice to haves, rather than consider it a need 😉

        * arguably with the exception of garden produce

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      5. I will try to summarize if I may. Some eight years after pulling the plug:
        + you have more financial assets than you had at the outset;
        + you are now drawing a DB pension (with pretty generous inflation indexing) that covers most of your costs (and once your SP(s) turn on in a few years time your costs should be fully covered);
        + you now live in a bigger house in a (admittedly subjective) better place;
        – albeit with less land to tend – which may have become trickier as you age;
        + you are in better health – both physically & mentally; and
        + I guess Mrs E is not unhappy too!

        What’s not to like?

        If you had been offered this as todays outcome eight years ago would you have accepted?

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      6. > would you have accepted

        In theory I would have but it would have not been right for us, because I am not an island – Mrs Ermine had an itch to scratch. Also burned-out and fearful me that has just crawled from the wreckage of my career would not have been able to take the chances, or indeed bridge the money.

        I am happy that it worked out right in the end so far 😉 I have little idea of whether I played a weak hand well, or was a seriously lucky bugger in throwing my last three years of earnings into the GFC. But all’s well that ends well, I don’t have to do it again. I am grateful for the grace of whatever guidance that piloted my path across the stormy seas, and indeed Monevator who lit the distant lighthouse to show there was another way.

        But I am also grateful to the kinder, gentler Britain of the post-war consensus that invested in the kids from poorer backgrounds with grammar school education, because the economy needed more scientists, engineers and professionals, and I happened to be a good fit for that at the time.

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      7. Replying to your comment below, ermine, but the ‘reply’ button doesn’t seem to nest below the first level!

        “declinism is a disease of ageing too”

        Or is it a case of the onset of the benefits of experience and a corresponding shift in perspective? In my experience, there is quite a shift in viewpoint in the decade from the mid-50s to the mid-60s, and while I understand the temptation to label this reflexly as ‘declinism’, when I look at some of the components of the shift, I’m less convinced. To pick a few at random: less materialistic (or perhaps to be entirely honest, more selectively materialistic); ceasing to buy into the sugar/caffeine rush of the wonderfulness of urban living; less interested in novelty for its own sake; a clearer idea of your real priorities and foci of interest and a more single-minded pursuit of these and a clearout of much of the rest; a considerably more reflective and independent-minded reaction to others’ stances. These (and others) all seem quite positive changes to me.

        Iirc you quoted Jung in one of your older posts, re the tendency to cling to past mindsets associated with earlier stages of life beyond the point of usefulness, a trivial example would be the fifty-something yo guy buying that Porsche, and the necessity of moving on if you weren’t to become fossilised and reduced by an attachment to an outmoded pov. ‘Declinism’ and ‘disease of ageing’ seems a overly negative way of describing the process of embracing necessary change!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. To Ermine:
        Got it.
        Itches, such as Mrs E’s are definitely best scratched.
        And, when the time was right to move – you could.
        So, eight years after pulling the plug, it has all ended up pretty peachy!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. @Magnus I think the non-nesting reply is there for the poor devils who read things on a mobile phone, particularly in portrait mode. Else they could end up with a single line of vertical text stuck to the right-hand side and paging vertically for ages. Vertical paging on a mobile seems to be a UI no-no.

        Anyway:

        a tendency to declinism as a disease of ageing is very much not the same as the shift in perspective that you summarised, which tends to be a shift from the outward to the inner life, a transition from personality to soul in some terms. As Jung put it:

        One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening become a lie.

        That transition is difficult, however, particularly in the West when values have shifted dramatically to the materialist, so the emphasis is on the story of the morning of life. Many people fail this transition IMO – they may become obsessed with the lives of their children and grandchildren as they sense a decline in their abilities and refuse the call of the inner, or simply don’t have it. Others ossify, they see their personal decline and image it upon the outer world. Old men have been observing that the world has been going to hell in a handcart since Roman times.

        You can see a little bit of that in me – as I surrendered the outer world because both I was growing tired of it, forces greater than myself were shrinking the pool of action for me and I refused the call of the inner, I projected that vision outwards, I was more a peak oiler in the past than I am now, though I absolutely don’t disagree with the overall direction of travel to a lower consumption, and very likely lower populated world.

        But I am not so sure that it is imminent. I have concluded that I know that I don’t know, because across the transition as I fell back and fell back Albert Camus’s invincible summer struck in the midst of winter. But I could easily have failed that transition.

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    1. fascinating that the Dutch word for pollarding is seems to have knot as it’s root. Many of the willows that line the rhynes here show evidence of pollarding, but I don’t often see the knot effect.

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  12. “Trying to grow ‘owt up North without agrochemicals looks like sticky wicket”: pah! We used to garden in East Lothian which is further north than Oop North. A sunny, dry climate, a free-draining sandy loam, little frost because we were beside the seaside, free fertiliser we gathered from the sands (when not distracted by the seals and puffins), and long summer evenings.

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    1. Low in elevation, very east, dry because presumably most of the rain has been discharged over the mountains – indeed if you look at the jobs advertised as suggested by Prince Charles to get the lazy proles fruitpicking just north of that area has a high concentration of jobs second only to Kent.

      Nevertheless, props to you – OK – we’re soft 😉 Yorkshire was as far north as we surveyed. And it looked hard, though also because of elevation, and population distribution.

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