Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Moral Guilt

I have been looking for a simple phrase to sum up what I see happening in the political world of climate change.

Climate change activists are on a mission. Not to save the world, though that is their mantra. No, it is to elevate themselves up the political structure of our society, to become recognized and then to control.

This they have done with incredible success, largely supported by politicians clutching at straws. And the way it has been achieved is through the manufacture of Moral Guilt.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where is John Galt when he's needed?

I have been following the UK Budget from a distance and it appears that the Government has really got things in a mess. Sure, the banks started the ball running down hill but you have to ask where was the Government when all this was going on? I mean, bankers making huge bonuses just for moving money around (and not necessarily in the right direction most of the time) should surely have triggered a few alarm bells?

Well, they obviously didn't. One of the things I've noted about governments these days is that the peoples' representatives mostly come from a legal background, have only worked in service industries, and rarely have much inkling about how ordinary people make a living. They are consummate politicians, being capable of lying and then not apologizing when things go awry. They are not the peoples' representatives at all.

So I wonder if there will be a revolution in the UK. Probably not, the British stiff upper lip will prevent such a calamity.

Ayn Rand's question "Who is John Galt" seems more and more appropriate to the situation.

Remembering St. George

Poor St. George. All he did was slay a dragon and save a maiden in distress. And today is his day, not that you'd actually know it. Reports that the Government is spending all of £116 on raising a flag adds up to the sum total of its interest. Cousins Andrew and David, never mind Patrick, all get huge celebrations. Even if green beer is hardly celebratory.

The irony is that the English Flag of St. George, a red cross on a white background, is more associated with soccer (and by inference hooliganism) than it is with patriotism.

We bought a St. George's flag in Houston many years ago. Over the counter, just like that. I should try to find it and fly it.

But this brief post is my contribution for St. George in 2009. Happy St. George's Day!

(PS, it is also the day William Shakespeare was born (possibly) and the day he died)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Global Confusion

I understand that today has been named Earth Day. For the rest of us, every day is Earth Day. It's where we live, after all.

But the recent reports on what is happening to the planet are anything if confusing. That's the trouble with trying to analyze something that is so complicated with too many variables.

Today we learn, for example, that pollution is slowing down global warming!

I for one don't believe most of what is purported to be a scientific "finding" if it has anything to do with climate change. The climate will change, that's the only given we can work with. Meantime the scientists and politicians continue to speculate what will happen ten, twenty, maybe a hundred years from now, and, unfortunately the politicians are using this speculation to adversely affect our quality of life and ability to get through a recession. That's a risk they should not be allowed to take.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama's People in Birmingham

This just in - a photographic exhibition at the BMAG, on until August. Tip of the hat to Ash10.

Secret Papers

Yet another example of showing secret papers to the public (via photographers, naturally) has emerged today. It will be interesting to see if a resignation follows. As a Minister of the Realm, I will place safe money on the outcome - Hazel Blears will not resign (though she can prove me wrong if she wants to!)

When on a long distance flight there is always the concern that bringing out work will compromise any secrecy that may be necessary (I sign confidentiality agreements all the time). The first thought is "I wonder what he/she sitting next to me does for a living - could he/she work for a competitor?"

That's why some of us use shredding machines, file folders, etc. etc.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Carbon Dioxide, the dangerous pollutant?

You know, it really bothers me that the EPA has come to heel with the environmentalist lobby and pandering Obama administration and made the declaration that carbon dioxide (CO2) is now to be considered a dangerous pollutant and major cause for global warming.

This is such tosh that it makes my scientifically trained brain positively hurt.

Don't any of these people know basic botany, biology and meteorology?

Botany: photosynthesis needs carbon dioxide to work.

Biology: without photosynthesis we would run out of oxygen, essential to life as we know it on Planet Earth.

Meteorology: water vapor is the major "pollutant" in the atmosphere when it comes to controlling the atmospheric temperature. Carbon dioxide is only a minor constituent.

So, why doesn't the EPA and everyone else declare water vapor a dangerous pollutant? Humans make an awful lot of water vapor. After all, the "smoke" escaping from thermal power station cooling towers is actually water vapor even though the environmentalists will have you believe it's the product of combustion.

Coming back to Earth, for a moment, water vapor in the atmosphere has always been around - think clouds!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Electric Car Subsidies in the UK

Well, I suppose I have to comment on this, the latest "move" by the British Government in support of their "carbon-reduction" policies.

Let's see how this works. You trade in your existing gas-guzzler and buy an electric vehicle or hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle. The new car comes with a fat subsidy. I wonder where the money comes from?

The new car also has batteries. Heavy batteries that contain toxic materials. So large and heavy that a four seater car becomes a two seater car. No room for the kids, then?

The all-electric car will have a range of around 150 miles, maybe less, and all of £20 million will be invested in providing charging stations around the country. But charging takes many times longer than re-fueling at the pump, so journeys will take longer, assuming there is a charging station handy. In this case the hybrid does seem the more sensible option.

Of course, electricity is still largely produced from burning carbon-based substances - oil, coal and gas. The amount generated from "environmentally friendly sources" is woefully small and unpredictable. So the point of generating carbon emissions will change but the amount of carbon emitted will not. If anything the amount of carbon emitted will increase because of energy losses down transmission lines and the fact that electricity is generated whether or not we choose to use it.

Which is why gasoline remains the world's most efficient and portable energy source.

Finally, one more thought. That old clunker needs to be scrapped, disposed of, even re-cycled, requiring even more energy, just as the new vehicle also requires energy to be built.

If people wish to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle, let them do so. That's their choice. It is the incentive that's ill-conceived.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Stupid but Honorable

The top policeman in charge of anti-terror in the UK, Bob Quick, emerged from a car yesterday carrying secret papers that were in full view of reporters and photographers. The contents of the papers, once revealed, caused an accelerated action to pick up suspected terrorists. It seems the plan was compromised by its leader's stupidity.

(Hardly an original concept in the UK these days)

What is unusual about this event is that within 24 to 48 hours the man responsible has quietly resigned.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ian Tomlinson

I have been following the London G20 Meetings from a distance and with little real interest until the reports of Ian Tomlinson's death began to emerge.

Mr. Tomlinson was not a demonstrator but a worker on his way home from work. Initial reports stated that he had collapsed and had been carried into relative safety by police officers because missiles were being thrown in the vicinity. He died shortly thereafter.

The Police issued some bland statements that a report would be issued in due course as to whether an investigation was justified.

Then came the video. This shows Mr. Tomlinson being pushed to the ground by a police officer (in full view of several other officers) where Mr. Tomlinson suffered a blow to the head from which he is presumed to have died.

Only now, several days after the event and the release of the video, have the police admitted that an internal investigation is necessary.

It is inevitable that certain parallels can be made to the de Menezes shooting in South London several years ago. Then it was the shooting of an innocent person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This time it was a police baton, not several bullets, but the result is the same. No doubt there will be those who say it was all an unfortunate accident, that there was no malice and that the push to the ground was not supposed to be life threatening. Look at the video.

I am not one to judge from my distance but surely an investigation is necessary from outside the structure of the Metropolitan Police? An independent inquiry would seem to be fully justified. I don't like to use irony when an innocent death is involved but is it not strange that the police officer has not yet been identified, either from the video (think image enhancement techniques that work so well in identifying terrorists, etc.) or by fellow officers?

In reviewing various entries made over the years, this blog carries frequent observations that the police in Britain have ceased to be public servants, hiding behind CCTV cameras, rarely interfacing with the public they are supposed to serve (and who pay their salaries and pensions).

Remember, Ian Tomlinson was a worker, dressed down as advised by the authorities so as to be safe from demonstrators' ire. Thinking, no doubt, that as an innocent bystander, he was protected by the law, he walked in front of the police officers, no doubt in a hurry to get home. If he had mistrusted their intentions and walked behind them, he would be alive today.

This all comes at the same time that the Hungarian website (linked to yesterday) displayed a series of images of low life in Cardiff, Wales. Those leaders who sit in their ivory towers, whether Parliament or Scotland Yard, need to get out and about in the real world. Like Ian Tomlinson did.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The New Society?

Quite why it takes a Hungarian website to publish these pictures, I know not, but if you really, really want to know what could be happening in the cities of the UK after dark, then visit this page. Be warned, it is not nice.

Science and Earthquake Prediction

The recent earthquake that has devastated central Italy and caused hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and much property damage was inevitable. The area sits atop a major fault that is known to be active. The problem with earthquakes has always been man's inability to predict when they might occur.

So earthquake prediction is something that seismologists actively pursue, often without much success. The nature of earthquakes can be summed up in the words "few, if any, foreshocks, many aftershocks". The biggest shock is usually the first, coming with no warning.

So an Italian scientist decided to try to define earthquake activity using emanations of the gas radon. He had good evidence that the technique could work and when radon emissions changed in and around L'Aquila he spoke up. But the local government didn't listen. Worse, they suggested he was scaremongering and should keep quiet.

The Apennine Fault was not paying attention, however, and the scientist was proved to be right.

Why didn't they listen? Perhaps it's because science has been dumbed down in recent years to the point that scientists are no longer taken seriously as experts in their chosen subjects. And where do we look for evidence of this? In the great Anthropogenic Global Warming debate. Joe Public has become so disenchanted with the rhetoric surrounding global warming that all science is being discounted. The best science is rarely reported, the worst science is making all the headlines. And researchers know this, to the point that many who need funding are cheating.

Looked at this way, there is a reason why the local authorities made their mistake in ignoring the evidence of an impending earthquake.

Will we learn from this?

Unfortunately I doubt it.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Birmingham is not in the Black Country!

The BBC gets it wrong!

Revisiting the Maldives Question

Today I read that the president of the Maldives is to ask the Queen of England to help him stop his archipelago nation from disappearing under the ocean due o global warming and rising sea levels.

Hasn't he heard of King Canute?

But seriously, the Maldives are not going under at all. Scientific studies that have been suppressed by the Maldives government show conclusively that in recent decades the islands have been rising relative to sea level. You can read about it here.

The main problem in the Maldives is coastal erosion due to over development. But no-one on the tourism gravy train wants you to know that.

Friday, April 03, 2009

OFCOM fines BBC £150,000

Last year there was an unfortunate incident broadcast by the BBC that stirred up public outrage. Today we read (on the BBC's website) that the government regulatory body OFCOM has fined the BBC £150,000.

This is interesting as, with all government regulatory body fines, it is the government that levies the fine but someone else who has to pay. In this case, the TV license fee payer is the piper that pays the tune.

It would be interesting to know how many such fines are levied each year and exactly what happens to the money collected by the various regulatory bodies.

Postscript; A government minister is suggesting the fine be paid by those who caused the incident. Good luck!

Post Postscript: Sunday, this report. Seems only the TV license fee payer is liable to pay the fine. Perhaps it is time for a mass revolt against the TV License Fee.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Wire on BBC

The big news these days emanating from the "Beeb" is that they have bought rights to The Wire, HBO's series based on and in the City of Baltimore, Maryland.

I have watched every episode (something like 60, I believe) and in some cases watched several of them several times over. This really is adult* TV at its very best. So my advice is, go and get hooked, you won't regret it. One caveat, though, is that you will have to work at it, The Wire is not easy entertainment.

(*Adult for the language and some pretty raunchy sex scenes)

Whatever happened to ribbed containers?

This piece concerns the frightening mistake a young woman made when she reached for a bottle of eyedrops but instead squeezed the contents of an identical bottle into her eye which contained cosmetic nail glue.

We hear so much these days about Health & Safety. Yet 50 years ago, for the purpose of assisting those who are blind, all poisons and toxic substances had to be sold in ribbed bottles.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Let's exchange climates!

One of the facets to emerge from the G20 gathering is that I have come to learn that the European Climate Exchange exists! What exactly is this?

Well, their website sometimes shows trader types on the telephone, no doubt arranging lunch or some other boondoggle. Or maybe they are actually trading climates:

"I've got this warm spell in the Maldives. Trouble is, the tourists think sea level is rising so they won't go there. But the good news is that hotel rates have plummeted and I can offer you a really good discount."

Or:

"Icebergs aren't melting as fast as we had hoped. I'm offloading a ton of paper that says they would. Interested in buying some at a discount?"

Or:

"You remember that good summer we had a few years ago? Well, my neighbor next to our second home in the country is a bit of a yokel but he swears this summer is going to break all records. I'm buying water utilities on the side, suggest you do the same."