Monday, 26 January 2015

Two windmills

We were out walking through Carsington Pasture today. It’s a somewhat barren landscape above Carsington Water, pockmarked with old mines and spoil heaps and now home to four huge wind turbines which can be seen for miles. You may be able to judge their size from the trees and the ruined stone windmill in the foreground.

The sound made by these things has been the subject of much debate, but I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. In the stiff breeze we had today, they make a low thrumming noise rather similar to the sound and the rhythm of a dishwasher. I wouldn’t want to live nearer than a couple of miles though; the sound must carry at night.

Big wind turbines are an impressive sight, especially up close on a windy day. What strikes me is the power behind the technology, the power of greedy and ambitious men. Women too no doubt, but let us leave the main responsibility where it belongs.

One is left with an acute reminder of the formidable realities of power, the ability to manipulate and persuade, the power to promote unworthy causes and harness worthy people to them. Voting will never change that.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Bashir bashing


The story of pinball MEP Amjad Bashir rumbles on.

Mr Bashir, a former Conservative, was elected as a UKIP MEP last year.

Before the defection was announced, UKIP suspended him and said he was being investigated for matters including "unanswered financial and employment questions" and "interference" with candidate selection processes.

I see no problems with our elected representatives swapping parties. Kicking against party discipline is no bad thing, but sadly I don't see in Mr Bashir a trend towards more independent political principles.

A reminder from Wikipedia:-

Amjad Mahmood Bashir (born 17 September 1952) is a Member of the European Parliament for the Yorkshire and the Humber region for the Conservative Party. He was elected in 2014 for the UK Independence Party and defected to the Conservative Party on 24 January 2015. Earlier on the same day, UKIP announced that they had suspended his membership and that he is under a continuing investigation over various allegations of impropriety.

Whether or not Cameron should have welcomed him back is one for the pundits. On reflection and taking everything into account I think I'd have told him to f**k off. 

For a more considered analysis try Adam Collyer and Witterings.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

What’s your price


It’s a cynical old saying that we all have our price. It is not one we care to use about ourselves though. Yet we do have our price because that’s partly why millions of crap jobs exist. The industrial revolution was built on some exceedingly crap jobs, on people with a price low enough for dark satanic mills to be profitable.

Perhaps there is also a variant of the Peter Principle where people aim to rise through an organisation until they reach their perceived value to the great wide world. The incompetence arises when a chap’s notion of personal value is rather higher than it should be.

In the public sector a decent salary, good working conditions and an index-linked pension have bought a significant degree of mildly cantankerous but essentially solid loyalty from millions. I saw it and was part of it.

A complicating factor is that people seem to have widely different notions of how much is enough for a satisfactory lifestyle. These notions do not seem to be strongly correlated with ability either. During my career I came across and heard about a number of able people who appeared to be quite happy with less than I’d be happy with, or less than I’d be happy with if I’d had their ability.

A good example of this was a guy my father told me about. He worked for Rolls Royce in the sixties, a heavily-bearded computer whizz who came to work on an old motorcycle and sidecar and ambled around the corporate corridors wearing sandals and no socks. All he did was solve computer problems but that was enough.

Rolls Royce was smart enough to make him into a one man department but never paid him anywhere what they would have given if he’d ever demanded it. Sublimely content with what he had, he just solved problems and took his family for jaunts in the motorbike and sidecar.

Modern bureaucracies seem to prefer a kind of grudging loyalty to unconventional talents. They buy it with money and security and certainly don’t want talented beardies with no socks wandering around the place. The closest they come to innovation is through their PR people – who also have their price.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Chilcot to be published now

After much criticism of the earlier decision to delay publication until after the general election, David Cameron has announced that the Chilcot report is to be published immediately.

“This government has nothing to hide,” Mr Cameron said to assembled journalists, “we publish now.”

We understand that the report is to be published as a partwork consisting of sixty monthly issues. Specialist partwork publisher DeLaye has been engaged to deliver the project on time and within budget.

Each issue will cost £4.95 including postage and the first will include a free cutout model of a WMD - see illustration above. A range of tasteful binders will be available, one binder having space for twelve monthly issues. 

As a special incentive, the final summary and list of recommendations will be given away free to all subscribers at the end of their subscription period. Publicity, marketing and related Twitter feeds are being handled by upmarket consultants Obskuranti.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

White rhino


According to the BBC and David Shukman the northern white rhino is teetering on the brink of extinction. Although it doesn’t look white to me. More grey than white. Shukman seems concerned though. Even more worried than the rhino but that’s what he does – brow-furrowing concern.

In an age when mankind can send robots to look for life on Mars, why can't science stop so many forms of life from being wiped out here on Earth?

The question comes amid the loss of species on such a relentless scale that conservationists call it the Sixth Mass Extinction - the fifth being the asteroid that killed the large dinosaurs. This one is driven by human activity.

It seems to me that there is a scale of possible reactions to this story.

From: Arm-waving we-are-destroying-the-planet, something must be done, it’s all our fault or rather your fault for being a thoughtless consumer bastard.

To: Indifference.

I’m firmly in the indifference camp – I really don’t care if northern white rhinos become extinct. I’m happy enough for other folk to try saving them, happy enough for substantial sums of money to be spent in the attempt - Shukman's salary for example. So go for it David - save them. 

I’m not prepared to pretend it really matters to me in any meaningful sense though. That would be cant. Johnson was good at spotting cant, especially in Boswell.

You tell a man, ‘I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet.’ You don't care sixpence whether he is wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don't think foolishly.”
James Boswell's  Life  of  Samuel  Johnson,  LL.D.

The BBC does cant rather well, it’s the fashion and has been forever, but Johnson’s advice was sound. It even applies to northern white rhinos which aren't actually white.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Are climatologists liars?


As we enter the umpteenth year with no global warming the short answer is a rather obvious YES if scientific theories are still falsifiable by physical evidence. Uppercase indicates shouting by the way.

In this UK election year, catastrophe-driven climatology seems more and more like political number-waving than traditional experimental science. A science of paid middle class advocates where political exigencies have placed a block on falsification and the advocate scientists couldn't care less because it's a noble cause. As are all their causes no doubt.

As the years slip by it has become painfully clear that the catastrophic narrative cannot be falsified under any but changed political circumstances such as an embarrassing number of frozen pensioners. Trashing the science may be fun, but it doesn't achieve much.

We see the issue most clearly in the abject failure of hugely expensive climate models to predict global temperature trends. The science and the scientists have failed miserably but the policies continue. Falsification is not allowed and never will be unless the political situation changes. It's like finding the school bully during a game of hide and seek. Really there is no point - better leave him hidden. Or indeed her.
There are other failures too, such as the failure polar sea ice to melt on cue and the untimely health of polar bear populations, but these are secondary to the primary failure - the lack of a any detectable temperature rise caused by troposphere COconcentrations.

If we class climatology as advocacy rather than traditional science then these failures are easily explicable in terms of politics, money and human behaviour - particularly middle class behaviour. The nonsense morphs into yet another dishonesty of daily life.

For example, one of the most problematic aspects of climatology has been the willingness of climatologists to lie by omission – to cherry-pick. Lying by omission may be common enough in normal discourse and compulsory in politics, but in years gone by one did not expect to find it in science. Tweed jackets yes - lying no.

Yet in climatology, lying by omission is very common indeed. It seems to function as a kind of Masonic handshake for climate initiates. Without it there would be no catastrophe narrative and therefore no rationale for political intervention. Political intervention being the whole point – obviously.

However if climatology is merely advocacy, then lying by omission is explained as a commonplace tool of international politics. The climate is poorly understood and unpredictable, but orthodox climatology must continue to suggest otherwise - so it does.

Catastrophe-based climatology is not a science and its practitioners are not scientists in any worthwhile sense. They are merely paid advocates and what is advocated is best viewed in that light. Orthodox climatology provides security, middle class status, a good income and a good pension. What is that worth? A human soul is what it’s worth.

Many would-be immigrants risk their lives for much less.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Where not to eat in Derbyshire

Derbyshire Times has a long list of food outlets with low hygiene ratings. Some even have a rating of zero.

Four food outlets across Derbyshire were given a zero-star hygiene rating in 2014, it can be revealed.

The damning scores – based on the latest inspections by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) – mean “urgent improvement” is necessary.

Ratings are based on how the food is handled, the condition and cleanliness of the premises and the management of the business which includes good record keeping.

All very interesting for those of us who sometimes eat out in Derbyshire, but we'd rarely touch a place with less than a five star rating anyway. These things are insidious though. There was a time when the general appearance of a place was enough, those tiny and not so tiny clues which scruffy folk seem unable to hide.

Now we look for the rating and I'm not sure it's an improvement. Not only that but one naturally goes on to wonder if such schemes will ever move on to other aspects of official nutritional approval. Should we expect a lettuce rating to arrive in due course?