Part 120

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I offer my opinion on Kurt Zouma and his disgusting behaviour towards his pet cats.  Also, a look at recent developments in the quest for fusion power.  There are the usual financial updates and a look at what the next few months may bring for my investments.

Quote of the Week

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days you can’t have missed the news about footballer Kurt Zouma, and how he’s abused his cats.  Shocking footage of him kicking and slapping one of his cats, whilst people laugh in the background has enraged much of the country.  What he has done is disgusting.  

It has been claimed that Zouma has been subjected to abuse following this revelation and that some of the abuse is racist.  Racism is disgusting.  By all means, call the man a cowardly loser for abusing his animals but do not descend into racist abuse.  

Zouma’s teammate Michail Antonio asked a reporter, “is it worse than racism?” when asked about the incident.  Well, it’s two different issues, both horrific in their own way.  It’s possible to declare one thing a crime against humanity (racism) whilst at the same time stating that animal abuse is a crime against life.  Just because you criticise one, it does not mean you support the other.  It’s a logically flawed point.

Football is morally bankrupt, as many of us realise.  However, if someone commits a crime and serves their sentence then they are usually free to resume work.  I don’t think Zouma should be banned from playing football, but I do think that West Ham should have read the room better.  Playing him in their recent fixture and trying to distance themselves from the story has not done their image any good, and will probably result in lost reputation and income through sponsors pulling the plug on agreements with the club and the player.  

I agree that there are those who are abusing Zouma with racist language.  This is unacceptable.  Racism should not be tolerated, but neither should animal cruelty.  You can tell a lot about a person’s character by how they treat those who are in their care, both animal and human.

I’ve had two cats in my life, and regular readers of this blog will know how much I loved them.  If I had caught anyone abusing either Sweep or Bobby, the results would not have been pretty.  I think of how loving, gentle and caring cats are, and I don’t understand how anyone could look at a cat and want to cause it pain.

There are suggestions that Zouma could be prosecuted for his offence.  I hope he is.  I don’t generally wish ill on people, but I wouldn’t be too upset if someone kicked him into the stands in his next game either.

Weekly Update

This week saw the release of my Dad’s latest novel, Aberrations.  It is now available on Amazon as a paperback with the Kindle version due for release imminently.  It’s a great read and I’ve been able to follow the progress of the work from the early drafts all through the publication.  This is a huge milestone for him as the last couple of years have hit him hard.  It’s not my place to go into detail about that, but you can read more on his blog at darrenscothern.com.  It seemed for a while that he would not release any more work, and he stated at one point that he’d retired from writing.  I always suspected he’d bounce back eventually, and I’m so proud of him for sticking with it and seeing this excellent story made public.  If you like gritty horror or thrillers, I can tell you now you will enjoy this book. Click below to go to the Amazon listing.

There have been a few science stories this week that have excited me, and I love science, especially anything to do with physics or space.  The first story is that the James Webb telescope has started to receive and process images.  These first pictures are purely for calibrating the equipment on the telescope and it will be sometime before we see the full extent of what this incredible machine can do.

I’ve blogged about energy before, and how we are still a long way from having an environmentally friendly infrastructure for electricity.  A lot of people are pinning their hopes on renewables, such as solar, wind etc.  This is a mistake.  Those types of energy are great as a supplement to our needs but the technology is not good enough to solve our energy needs.  The real issue is that, as a planet, we need to get over our aversion to nuclear power.  

There have been several accidents over the years but the technology has advanced greatly.  In the last few days, a story broke that a lab in the UK has managed to break its own record for a sustained fusion reaction.  Meanwhile, labs in China claim to have managed a sustained fusion reaction for several minutes.  This is huge.  

Nuclear fusion is not the same as nuclear fission.  In basic terms, with fission you split the atom and get energy that way.  With fusion you press atoms together until they fuse.  This releases huge amounts of energy and is the process by which our sun provides light and heat.  Fusion has the potential to solve our energy needs.  It’s safe, and clean.  We just need to scale it up so that much more energy is released than put into the reaction.  I believe it will happen, but it could be a few decades away.  There is a reactor being built in France as part of an international collaboration.  Maybe we will see results sooner, but I suspect fusion will not be a major part of our energy production until the latter half of the century.

The problem with green energy like solar and wind is that it’s not reliable enough to power a grid for a prolonged period of time.  If you have a network that uses electricity as soon as it’s produced you need a constant source of energy.  Wind and solar are not constant and varies wildly depending on where on Earth you are.  This type of energy is useful, but for it to be as useful as possible we need much better grid storage, i.e. massive batteries that can store the energy until it’s needed.  When supplemented with nuclear, be it fission or fusion, this would help reduce our addiction to fossil fuels.  

The week ended with some frustrating news.  I have type-2 diabetes.  I wasn’t surprised by this but it’s still a kick in the nuts.  I’ve had so many health issues over the last few years which has contributed to my weight gain.  It seems that since late 2019, when I spent a fair amount of time on crutches, and then my mental breakdown in 2020, I’ve not been able to catch a break.  Hopefully, this is where my problems bottom out so that I can start to claw my way back to health.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve slowly been changing my diet to try and reduce my IBS/Crohn’s flare-ups.  It’s clear that I need to ramp up these changes and get back to the gym as soon as possible.

A Brief Interlude

I’ll never hide this blog behind a paywall, but it does cost money to run the site.  I spend a minimum of six hours each week writing the blog, and maintaining the other parts of davidscothern.com.  It is a labour of love.  However, many of you have asked how you can show your appreciation.  I set up a Buy Me A Coffee page but the main feedback was that you couldn’t pay by card.  Well, now you can!  My page now supports card payments and Apple Pay.  So, if you want to show your support and appreciation for the content I create, please buy me a coffee.   

2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 124.9kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books.

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC)
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)

3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before.

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: Firefall by Peter Watts

What I’m listening to: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

What I’m watching: The Hunt on Netflix

I’m not really enjoying Firefall, mostly because of the outdated and almost insulting way it treats neurodivergence.  I’ll stick with it a little longer though and see if it’s part of the story or just the attitude of the author.  

The Count of Monte Cristo is something I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I am, but it’s great.  It’s one of those stories that I thought I knew the broad strokes to but it’s so much more than man-escapes-wrongful-imprisonment.  The narrator is brilliant in his own way.  He doesn’t come across as a professional voice actor and you can hear the page of the book turning, and he occasionally stumbles over his words.  It’s all part of the charm though, and it’s like listening to someone tell you a story in your living room.  This version is a production for a charity for blind people which explains why it doesn’t have a lot of money behind the production.  The imperfections in the performance add to the experience.

The Hunt was a movie we watched earlier in the week and it’s batshit crazy.  We loved it.  It’s only a short film and the premise is that a group of wealthy people abduct random people and then hunt them on the estate of a mansion.  It’s violent, bloody, and in no way politically correct, but that’s the whole point.  It’s satire, and it’s in your face but it’s also highly entertaining.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £6,345.00 (down £8,355.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £46,867.20 (up £1,346.67 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £5,000.00 (up £1,500.00 from last update). 

Crypto: £507.10 (down £25.32 from last update). 

Pensions: £51,827.34 (up £378.56 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £213,900.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £138,030.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £462,476.64 (down £5,155.09 from last update). 

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £165,264.71 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £92,939.80 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £258,204.51 (no change from last update).

Total Wealth: £204,272.13 (down £5,155.09 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £137.51 (target £6,000).

I cashed in some of my Premium Bonds to help someone out, whilst also transferring £1,500 over to my Fuck It Fund so that target has been reached.  This means that each month I can focus on one thing at a time.  My priorities now are to max out my ISA for the 2022/2023 financial year as quickly as possible.  Then, my attention turns to acquiring a second BTL.  The refurb work on our current BTL is progressing.  When complete we can complete a further advance to release some of the equity.  We had toyed with the idea of selling, but we think it would be better to hold on to the property.  

Later in the year, when my pension statements are generated, I’m going to look at changing my residential mortgage to interest only.  This will free up even more cash each month to put into investments.  I may not be able to put my whole mortgage on interest only due to the lender’s policy on interest only, but I should be able to switch around two-thirds at a minimum.

The next few months are going to be interesting, with energy prices rising alongside high levels of inflation.  It seems that everything is getting more expensive.  This is yet another reason why it’s so important to achieve some level of financial independence.  

Biolink

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink at bio.link/davidscothern.

Please show your support

I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image to be taken to my supporter page.  You can either make a one off donation, or sign up to a monthly subscription.  If you can’t make a donation, please share my blog on your social media.

You can still see Sweep’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat.  

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s fantastic blog at darrenscothern.com. 

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